Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Cramer, Kenneth


Ethnic identity, Posttraumatic growth, Social support




Individuals across cultures can experience both negative and positive outcomes following loss and trauma. Social support and group identity have been found to promote growth following trauma while reducing posttraumatic stress symptoms. Guided by Calhoun and Tedeschi's (2006) conceptualization of posttraumatic growth and the influence of one's ethnic group on growth, the present study aimed to expand previous research by examining the impact of ethnic identity and receiving social support from members of one's ethnic group on posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress symptoms following the loss of an important relationship. University students (N = 183) who had experienced a recent relationship loss completed self-report measures of posttraumatic growth, posttraumatic stress disorder, ethnic identity, and social support received separately from members of their ethnic group and their general social network. Additionally, participants commented on how their ethnic group helped and hindered their recovery following the loss. Initial results indicated that ethnic identity exploration and ethnic identity commitment were positively correlated with posttraumatic growth. When controlling for important covariates, such as ethnicity and type of loss, ethnic identity exploration remained a significant predictor of growth, but the influence of ethnic identity commitment was no longer significant. It was further hypothesized that social support from one's ethnic group would be a more important predictor of growth than general support. Findings did not support this hypothesis. Finally, as hypothesized, social support from one's ethnic group partially mediated the relation between ethnic identity commitment and posttraumatic growth following loss. Qualitative findings highlighted the primary role of ethnic group members in the recovery process through opportunities for communication, emotional processing, and gaining a sense of togetherness and belonging. Results suggest that ethnic identity and social support may have an impact on posttraumatic growth, but these were somewhat overshadowed by the relation of ethnicity to posttraumatic growth within the current sample. Further tests of these relations within more diverse populations would contribute greatly to research in this area. Results of the current study inform and guide research and clinical interventions in order to promote positive outcomes following loss and trauma for ethnically diverse individuals.